The Paleo Diet is known under different names such as the Hunter-Gatherer, Cavemen, and Paleolithic. It is based on plant foods, meats, roots, and herbs that were known to men before the advent of modern agriculture and farming.

The Menu of Our Ancestors

Paleolithic people were hunters. They used strategies such as net hunting and fiber-based technologies. Blind valleys, box canyons, and gorges were used for mass kills. Meat was a major component of their diet, including organ and lean meat that is low in fat. Hunter-gatherers consumed organ meat such as pork, beef, and lamb tongue, liver, and marrow. They hunted grass-eating animals and birds that had an organic diet. Game meat came from different sources, including animals such as kangaroo, emu, and ostrich. Their menu was rich in meat such as boar, venison, turkey, lamb, rabbit, and seafood.

Our ancestors were also gatherers. They ate plenty of vegetables, nuts, and roots. Vegetables and fruits have a low calorific density, but gatherers were heavily reliant on the resources available in their natural habitat. Their diet was rich in fruits and vegetables such as mushrooms, beet greens, turnip greens, carrots, blackberries, and others. Roots and seeds were also a main part of their menu. They ate foods such as walnuts, chestnuts, and nuts.

Adopting a Paleo Lifestyle

Dieters eat poultry and eggs but only if cattle are grass-fed instead of fed grain. They can eat free-range eggs as well. Snacks, pasta, bread, and other high-carb foods should go. Foods off the list are cereal grains such as rye, rice, and corn as well as processed foods, cream, milk, and cheese. Beer is not allowed because our ancestors did not drink alcohol.

The Paleo vs. Neolithic Diet

Naturally, there are some variations in the menu. Delayed return foragers did not consume food immediately but stored the surplus meat, seeds, roots, and other foods. Immediate return foragers ate all food within a couple of days. Regardless of regional variations, some foods were not part of the menu of Paleolithic humans. These include grains and dairies which are products of agriculture. While agricultural societies grew crops and relied on domesticated plants and animals, hunter-gatherers were not food producers. They planted no fruits, vegetables, or grains but hunted for wild fruits and roots. Neolithic people, on the other hand, created stone implements that contributed to the creation of a new culture of animal husbandry and food production.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet

According to healthcare professionals, the Paleolithic Diet offers plenty of health benefits. Nuts, fish oil, and seafood are loaded with macronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain substances with anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart attack, and other chronic diseases. A healthy blood flow is another benefit. Dieters consume plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Moreover, starchy vegetables are excluded from the menu because they cause spikes in insulin levels. Fruits should be eaten in moderation because some high GI fruits raise insulin levels. This is especially important for persons with metabolic problems. As a rule, it is a good idea to eat more vegetables than fruits. Dairies are also off the list because they contain growth hormones, antibiotics, and other harmful substances. Given the fact that cows are fed manly grain, dairies are also low in macronutrients. What is more, some studies have shown a link between the consumption of dairy products and ovarian and prostate cancer.

There are other health benefits associated with the Paleo Diet. Given that Paleolithic humans relied on protein, they enjoyed healthy metabolism and more muscle mass. Improved gut health is an added benefit thanks to the foods included in the menu. Processed and fast food and products that are high in sugar cause intestinal inflammation. Improved absorption of essential nutrients and better digestion contribute to a healthy body. Our ancestors thrived on these foods for millions of years which means that our genes are adapted to the Paleolithic diet. In fact, this period encompasses about 99 percent of the technological prehistory of humankind.

The Menu and Food Intolerance

Nutrition experts also claim that the diet is beneficial in that it limits the consumption of foods that cause intolerance and allergies. Some people are allergic to and incapable of processing dairies and grains. Lactose intolerance, for example, is associated with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and pain, and bloating. Older people are more likely to suffer from lactose intolerance, but the symptoms are common. Other people suffer from gluten intolerance. The symptoms include digestive problems such as bloating and gas, hormonal imbalances, dizziness, and fatigue. The Paleo Diet restricts the intake of dairies and foods that contain gluten, thus reducing the risk for allergies.

In sum, the main benefits for dieters include balanced energy, stable blood sugar, improved sleep pattern, and many others. It is suitable for both meat eaters and vegetarians as the menu includes plenty of plant-based foods. Another benefit is that the recommended foods are very low in sodium. This is a low-carb plan that helps lose and maintain a healthy weight. But it is not intended for overweight people only. For many followers, it is a healthy lifestyle.

Downsides and Considerations

For some people, this plan is a bit pricey. Another problem is that people who eat fatty meats instead of lean meats are at an increased risk for cardiovascular problems. Some nutrition experts also claim that people who avoid grains miss out on essential micronutrients. Finally, plans that limit whole food groups are not easy to follow. Not everyone is used to the idea of breadless sandwiches, pasta without pasta, and so on. Opponents also claim that this plan can cause calcium deficiency, but there are non-dairy calcium sources such as almonds, kale, and collard greens.